Roquan Smith deal holdup related to new helmet rule

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While the Chicago Bears play their first preseason tilt, the Hall of Fame Game, on Thursday, they still don't have first-round pick Roquan Smith under contract.

On Saturday, Bears coach Matt Nagy revealed that the new lowering-helmet rule is "part of the issue" in the stalemate between Smith and the team.

The new rule allows the league to penalize, fine, eject or possibly suspend players who lower their helmets to make hits, depending on the severity of the offense. Of note: Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan was suspended last season for a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams before the new rule was put in place.

The Bears and Smith are at odds over the financial protections in the contract should the linebacker be suspended for such a hit. Suspensions allow teams to void guaranteed money in contracts. High-volume tacklers, as Smith is expected to be, would likely be more susceptible to violating the new rule than some other positions.

"For both sides, it's more of a language deal, a language-type deal," Nagy said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "Again, for me, as a first-year head coach going through this, my thing is just collaborating with [general manager] Ryan [Pace] and what they have going on with the agent and making sure that we understand, together, I need to as a head coach just continue to keep plugging away with what we have and who we have.

"We'll eventually get that thing figured out. The biggest thing for our organization and for our players is for me to be focused on who's here right now, and that's what I'm doing."

The No. 8 overall pick in the draft, Smith is expected to slide right into the starting lineup as a sideline-to-sideline tackler for an underrated Chicago defense. First, the Bears need to settle the contractual issues.

Smith and New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall) remain the only two drafted rookies not under contract.

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